A Better Holiday Table

Nothing says festive and traditional Thanksgiving like hues of orange and brown, gourds everywhere, turkeys on all available surfaces, from plates to platters and napkins, happy little pilgrim salt and pepper shakers and a cornucopia centerpiece practically spewing food, leaves and yet more gourds onto the table, right?

Not for design consultant Christian Boyer and his friend of 35 years, Patrick Hoffmann, owner of the new shop PJ’s Flowers and Antiques in Bedford. These two, with some help from the staff of PJ’s, created a beautiful Thanksgiving table arrangement that happily leaves out or tones down many of the holiday’s overworked and tired symbols.

“You don’t just have to do gourds or pumpkins at Thanksgiving,” says Boyer. “We’re hoping to inspire people to do something different.”

Like many holidays, Thanksgiving is often over-commercialized, with stores urging you to buy pilgrim hat napkin rings and Mayflower gravy boats in August. Boyer and Hoffmann ignored all the holiday clutter and went back to what a Thanksgiving table should really look like — warm, inviting and special.

What stands out most about Boyer and Hoffmann’s table design is that, while it ignores much of what is associated with Thanksgiving, it still has the feel of an old-fashioned, elegant holiday meal.

It’s easy to go out and buy some fall colored flowers, a cornucopia and Thanksgiving-themed flatware, but with a little more thought, such as using antique or antique-style dishes, your table can still be holiday appropriate without going overboard.

The 12-piece antique setting Hoffmann acquired at an estate sale is a great way to decorate for a holiday dinner. While the green and gold aren’t the usual fall table colors, they echo the colors of ornamental fruits and vegetables on the table. With simple sterling silver cutlery and stemware rimmed in gold, the overall look is rich and traditional.

Their motivation behind the final outcome, says Hoffmann, is “just being more unique.” Some small, but lovely touches are real flowers, such as the orchids on the plates, the blossoms around the candles and the yellow petals on the tabletop. Instead of using one flower arrangement in the middle of the table, Boyer and Hoffmann still incorporated a traditional element, but in an updated way.

The middle of the table is by no means bare. With a few fruits and vegetables and a beautiful platter, the turkey itself becomes the perfect centerpiece. Raised arrangements, such as the large candlesticks Hoffmann and Boyer use, finish the design and are a great table decorating tip that does not block conversation.

Finishing off the elegant look is the antique furniture. While not everyone has a cache of antiques lying around the house, everything (minus the turkey) used in the design is available at PJ’s, says Hoffmann.

Even if you just have a start of a design concept, such as your grandmother’s dishes or a dining room wall color, says Hoffmann, bring it in or describe it to the staff and they’d be happy to help expand your idea.

Here are a few more shops where you can find antiques or something unique to spruce up your holiday table

New Hampshire’s Route 4 Antique Alley For a complete list of member shops visit www.nhantiquealley.com.

Lee Circle Antiques
Rte. 125, Calef Hwy.
(603) 868-3424
Open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily
Closed January 1-14

Wonderful Things Antiques
94 Rte. 4
(603) 942-8832

R.S. Butlers Trading Company
102 Rte. 4
(603) 942-8210
April-November: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, except Tues.
December-March: weekends and by appointment

Evans & Wright at the Eagle
194 Rte. 4
(603) 942-5020

Horseless Carriage Antique Shop
234 Rte. 4
(603) 485-7381

Ole Parsonage Antiques
528 Rte. 4
(603) 942-5749
Open most days April 1-Dec 31:
Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sundays 12 p.m.-5 p.m.
Open by chance January-March

Parker-French Antique Center
1182 Rte. 4
Open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily
(603) 942-8852

Lakeview Antique Center
1505 Rte. 4
Open year round, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
(603) 942-8460

Coveway Corner Antiques
1557 Rte. 4
Open 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
(603) 942-7500

Landmark Furnishings
114 Dover Road (Rte. 4)
Open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 12 p.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Closed Tuesdays
(603) 798-3130

Austin’s Antiques
114 Dover Road (Rte. 4)
Open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily
(603) 798-3116

Showcase Consignments
332 Dover Road (Rte. 4)
Open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday and Friday
until 8 p.m.
(603) 798-4199